The last two times the Nebraska women’s basketball team clashed withIndiana, it lost by margins of 28 and 36. For a time, it seemed another blowout would occur for the Huskers on Thursday night against the No. 6 Hoosiers.
But, despite the 72-65 loss, Nebraska fought until the final buzzer.
Much like their losses to Michigan State and Iowa, the Huskers played from behind for nearly the entire game. This time, however, Nebraska had to overcome its biggest deficit so far this season. At one point in the third quarter, the Huskers were down by 17 points.
The team struggled primarily against Indiana’s starting five, which delivered 64 of its 75 points on the night. The Hoosiers finished the game shooting 25-of-59 from the field, 6-of-18 from 3-point range and 16-of-25 from the foul line.
As for Nebraska, the team finished the night shooting 24-of-60 from the field, 6-of-21 from 3-point range and 11-of-18 from the free throw line. The Huskers also outrebounded Indiana 41-35, but gave away 19 turnovers while the Hoosiers had just 13.
Leading the way for Nebraska in scoring was freshman center Alexis Markowski with 17 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter. Markowski also led the team in steals with three. Sophomore guard Jaz Shelley scored 15 points, second highest for the Huskers on the night, and also led the team in rebounds with nine. The last player to record double-digit points was junior guard Sam Haiby with 10.
After a quick series of scores by both teams within the first minute, a scoreless period followed with both teams tied 4-4. Then, when Shelley broke the tie with a jumper, the Hoosiers responded with a 3-pointer to take the lead.
Nebraska wasted no time retaking that lead with Haiby and freshman guard Allison Weidner making layups to give the Huskers a 10-7 lead. But, after that point, momentum started going Indiana’s way, as it blew up with an 8-0 run. Within a minute, the Hoosiers took a 15-10 lead.
This was the score for nearly two minutes before Nebraska tried chipping into the lead. But, when the Huskers put up a shot, Indiana answered back with one of its own. It started with a Haiby layup being countered with a Hoosiers’ layup.
Then, when freshman guard Annika Stewart landed a 3-pointer, Indiana landed one shortly after. Finally, when Weidner added a point from the foul line to make the deficit 20-16, the Hoosiers put up a layup, wrapping up the first quarter ahead by six.
The second quarter opened up slow scoring-wise, with Nebraska trying to keep Indiana from extending its lead. Along with that, the Huskers were trying to get their offense going. But neither seemed to be working for Nebraska, as the Hoosiers continued building upon their lead. Soon Indiana was up 28-19, but a quick spark by the Huskers suddenly made it 28-24 with points by Markowski and Shelley.
The Hoosiers quickly tossed in a 3-pointer to make it 31-24, but sophomore guard Ashley Scoggin replied to the triple with her own. Indiana then once again tried pulling away with its lead. With the momentum on the Hoosiers side, Nebraska was soon trailing 40-27.
The Huskers made another attempt to chip into the lead, making the deficit 40-31 thanks to layups by Markowski and Shelley. But Indiana replied once again to Nebraska’s attempt, as it went into the locker room up 44-31.
After a scoreless minute to open up the third, Shelley tried to start something for the Huskers with a jumper. But another Hoosiers’ run just continued building on their lead. When the score reached 52-35, Nebraska was seemingly too far behind to make anything happen. But the Huskers weren’t going down without a fight as, with a Scoggin 3-pointer and two free throws by Shelley, the score became 52-40.
But, Indiana just continued what it was doing all night and put more space between it and Nebraska. With under a minute left in the third, the Hoosiers were up 56-40. The Huskers did get a few points before time expired, but as they headed into the fourth, they were down 57-43.
Haiby opened up the final quarter with a layup, which was followed by a Markowski layup. Then, with a layup by sophomore forward Isabelle Bourne, the deficit was down to single digits. Then after an Indiana free throw, Weidner took a trip to the line and went 2-of-2, making the deficit 58-51.
From there it became a back-and-forth duel between the teams, with Nebraska unable to bring the margin below seven points. When the game entered the final minute, the Huskers trailed 68-59. Then a Markowski layup made it 68-61 with 51 seconds left. Another Markowski layup made it 68-63 with 39 seconds left. Weidner went 2-of-2 at the foul line to make it 68-65 with 24 seconds left.
Indiana proceeded to go 2-of-2 at the foul line with 23 seconds left to push the margin to five. Another trip to the free-throw line for the Hoosiers was the final nail in the coffin for Nebraska as the game ended 72-65.
With the loss, the Huskers are now 13-3 on the season and 2-3 in conference play. Nebraska has also lost three of its last four since entering the Big Ten stretch of its season. The team’s next game will be on Sunday, Jan. 16 where it’ll face off against Iowa for the second straight week.
“Anybody can look at this stretch of ball games and say that it's tough,” Nebraska women’s head basketball coach Amy Williams said postgame. “We know that it’s tough, so we're seeing if we’re finding ways to get better. Sadly, we didn’t do that tonight. We had opportunities that we let slip away and things that we can clean up show.”
The tipoff for the game is at 5 p.m. and can be viewed on Big Ten Network or listened to on Husker Radio Network.